Dermatologists prescribe products to their patients all day long, but have you ever wondered which ones they personally use? Welcome to Derm Diaries, a series where dermatologists share their skin woes—and solutions—so you can steal secrets from their skincare routines.
For Jing (Jenny) Liu, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor practicing in Minneapolis, dermatology is what she envisioned medicine to be. "I love the visible aspect, being able to diagnose conditions and visualize improvement—It is very gratifying," she says. After volunteering at a free clinic during medical school she realized how much of a toll dermatological conditions can take on people—even if they're not life-threatening. "This experience really shaped my passion for dermatology especially being able to care for skin of color and underserved patients who may not have the best access to healthcare."
As with all of the dermatologists featured in Derm Diaries, Dr. Liu's skin is not perfect and she says she's always dealt with combination skin but that after pregnancy it's become much more dry and sensitive. She also deals with hormonal acne and hyperpigmentation. Her philosophy: "stick to gentle skincare practice using mild cleansers and good moisturizers that help to repair the skin barrier." On top of her skincare routine below, Dr. Liu also invests in a monthly chemical peel to help with exfoliation, acne, and hyperpigmentation.
She alternates between a gentle and an exfoliating cleanser in the morning.
"The Glytone cleanser has glycolic acid to help with gentle exfoliation (I use it two to three times weekly in the morning) while Cerave is perfect to remove the oil buildup overnight but very gentle."
She’s obsessed with Vitamin C serums.
"Vitamin C is the most common antioxidant in our skin and very powerful. It's been shown to prevent photooxidation caused by UV rays and also stimulates collagen, as well as inhibit pigmentation—making it great for melasma and hyperpigmentation."
She uses a spot treatment for hyperpigmentation.
"This has three percent tranexamic acid, kojic acid, and niacinamide to help with lightening dark spots."
She amps up moisture with a hyaluronic acid serum.
"This has been clinically shown to protect and repair skin from environmental stressors and it's also great to temporarily plump the skin and hydrate."
She swaps between two different moisturizers.
"The La Roche-Posay uses neuropeptides that are soothing for irritated skin while Cerave uses hydrating ceramides but it's a little more lightweight, if I just want a good moisturizer before my sunscreen."
She always opts for a tinted sunscreen formula.
"I stick to sunscreens with iron oxide (i.e. tinted) which helps to block visible light that also plays a role in hyperpigmentation."
She double cleanses at night to remove makeup.
"In general the most important cleanse is at night/before bed so I double cleanse to remove makeup, dirt etc. In the morning, you don't need aggressive cleansing, especially if you took care of the skin. I start with this cleansing balm to remove my waterproof eye makeup and sunscreen."
Followed by a benzoyl peroxide cleanser.
"I love benzoyl peroxide (BPO), however, it can be very drying and irritating. I've used other BPO cleansers but this one is my absolute fave. It works well but is not irritating at all. I will apply to my face, let it sit for four to five minutes so it can fully work, I'll usually brush my teeth during, then rinse off."
She alternates her prescription retinoid with an alpha hydroxy acid treatment.
"I alternate between La Roche Posay Adapalene 0.1% gel and my prescription retinoid (tretinoin) to help keep acne in check and boost collagen production. Once a week (if I remember), I'll skip my retinoid and instead use a leave-in AHA treatment, containing glycolic acid and other AHAs. This helps to increase cellular turnover, helps with pigmentation, and overtime AHAs have proven to fight signs of photo-aging."
She believes in neck creams.
"This is something I started last year when I turned 35. This one has retinols and peptides and their clinical studies show pretty impressive results."